As more information becomes known about the potential negative health impact of commercial pesticides and genetically modified organisms (GMOs), eating organic is becoming more important to people today than ever before.
Concerned parents want the best products for their kids. Chefs lure in new diners with the promise of fresh organic dishes that maximize flavor as well as health benefits. Plus, growing your own organic produce is fun!
Because organic farming can be more labor-intensive than traditional commercial farming, this has also contributed to a rise in farm jobs in Australia for workers who want to learn and contribute to an increase in organic produce for all. Now read on to learn the eight simple steps to grow your own organic apple tree!
Step 1: Sample a bunch of organic apples!
This is an awesome project for teachers to do with their kids and parents to do with their kids. It can also be fun for city dwellers with limited space for gardening.
Head to your local health food store or organic co-op. Gather a selection of organic apples and sample each. Then choose your favorite.
Step 2: Return to the store and select several apples of that varietal
As a general rule of thumb, at the most 30 percent of apple seeds will sprout. So you want to be sure you are working with several seeds to start to have the best chance of success.
Slice each apple down the middle and carefully extract the seeds from the center. (Then you can make a tasty apple pie, apple sauce, apple cider or something else yummy with the apples!)
Step 3: Get your harvested apple seeds started on germination
Germination is a delicate and amazing first step in the life of your future apple tree. This is especially wonderful for young kids to witness and marvel at how that tiny seed will one day become a big, strong young tree.
Get out a resealable plastic bag and a couple of paper towels. Get the paper towels thoroughly damp. Place the seeds inside and press the paper towel around them. Insert the entire towel/seeds package inside the resealable bag and close it tight. Place the bag in your fridge.
Check the paper towels weekly and re-dampen as needed. It may take up to four weeks for the seeds to germinate. You will know they have done so when tiny white sprouts start to peek out of the seeds.
Step 4: Plant your apple seedlings
Here is where things really start getting fun! After your seeds germinate, it is time to plant them. Bury each seed about 1.5″ down in some starter potting soil. Soon they will start sending up tiny green shoots above the soil surface.
Step 5: Time for grafting
After your seedlings have grown to about 12 inches tall, they are now official saplings and it is time for grafting.
This can be a bit confusing if it is your very first time, so you may want to watch this excellent short video by a professional apple arborist that offers step-by-step instructions.
Step 6: Wait at least 30 days and check for new growth
Growing organic apple trees can definitely take some patience, as you are probably already starting to notice.
Once you have set up your new grafts, it is time to wait. It may take as long as three months to see new growth, but start checking after one month. If you don’t see any new growth after three months, the grafts have failed.
Don’t be discouraged – remember, this is common. When you make multiple grafts, one is more likely to take.
Step 7: Care for your new young organic apple tree
After three months, you will know which grafts have been successful and can start caring for your new organic apple tree as it grows.
Step 8: Enjoy tasty organic apples!
It may take three years before your young tree yields its first apple crop and up to 10 years before you get a full crop. Once it yields, you will have your reward – delicious organic apples for years to come!